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Social Media and Community Engagement

Social Media and Community Panel

Social Media and Community Panel

In what has to be the all-time record for the largest panel ever at CIL, 9 people gave their perspectives on social media and community engagement.. Characteristics of the panel are available on the conference website. Here are the social media platforms that they use.

Social Media Platforms Used

Social Media Platforms Used

Panelists’ goals for social media:

  • Give your population an understanding of the value you bring to your community and the tools you use (this goal is the overall “macro-goal”),
  • Outreach and marketing,
  • Build community online,
  • Remember that the library is there and is a place they can go,
  • Delight users and make the interaction fun,
  • Reach people and who are online but don’t come into the library any more, maintain a relationship with them, and increase the number of people who know what’s going on at the library,
  • Make contact with freshmen students and present library services to them; make them aware that the library is there to help them, and authenticate the voice behind the social media; blend social media with fun,
  • Be a gateway to the library; get students, faculty, and staff to engage with each other,
  • Encourage access to library services online; and
  • Bring startups to libraries; expand the sphere of influence.

How they are reaching out to non-users?

  • Use meetup; open the library after hours and play games;
  • Survey users who had used the library in 2 years ago but not in the last year; hire a phone surveying company;
  • Collaborate with larger entities on campus; give them something funny they can share with their friends;
  • Meet people in person, which is more powerful than social media;
  • Surveys asking what people use for social media; communicate with professors face-to-face; make sure your presentation is very professional;
  • Find someone who is a central node in a network and is therefore well connected and get them to help you get your message out to other non-users; post comments on pages that are frequently viewed;
  • Establish a relationship with large campus-wide accounts; meet with student groups in person; distribute paper flyers; and
  • Shoot blanks into Twitter and hope something sticks; comment on tweets which are free advertising; attend conferences that are not library conferences; have strong LinkedIn and Twitter presences.

How or when do you shut down an account?

  • Focus on only one account and let the others lie derelict;
  • Let things linger; use Instagram which automatically posts to Facebook;
  • Recognize that your time is valuable and many campuses require many approvals to establish an account, so focus on one account;
  • If the account does not get traction; and
  • Make sure your account has an influence.

If not Facebook, then what? Many people in the audience mentioned Tumblr, which autoposts to Facebook.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

Data Scientist: A New Role For Librarians?

Amy Affelt

Amy Affelt

Amy Affelt, Director of Database Research Worldwide at Compass Lexicon and author of The Accidental Data Scientist, a newly-published book by Information Today, discussed some characteristics of Big Data and its possibilities for information professionals. She noted that big data is different from other data; here are some sources of it.

Big Data Characteristics

Big Data Characteristics

Verification of big data and determining its value are opportunities for information professionals.  Although the data is big, the insights gained from it are even bigger. Some recently developed big data applications include healthcare, transportation, and entertainment, all of which involve enormous collections of data. For example, Stanford University researchers looked through 81,000 searches–far more than can be done manually!–to find correlations between drugs and conditions.

Many big data applications are affected by the digital divide because they depend on using a smartphone app to access them which many people either do not have or do not know how to use. For example, if you have received a parking ticket, you can use an app called “Fixed” and take a photo of the ticket with  your smartphone, send it to the app, which will  survey thousands of previous tickets from the same municipality and determine chances of winning if the ticket is contested.  Obviously, people without a smartphone cannot use this app.

Not all big data applications have been successful; for example, data for Google’s Flu Trends  came from people searching Google, not healthcare professionals, and in the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers, for which FBI agents collected 13,000 video feeds and still photos and assigned analysts to look for someone acting suspiciously, the bombers were not apprehended from the data. Bad big data advice comes from reusing the data (how do you ensure that recycled data is clean), or global data sharing (the big concern is “garbage in, garbage out”; how do you stop “garbage in”?). Here is a raw data quality checklist:

Raw Data Quality Checklist

Raw Data Quality Checklist

Here are 6 data analysis tools that anyone can use:

Data Analysis Tools

Data Analysis Tools

You don’t need to know coding to work with big data, but a little knowledge helps.  Some roles for information professionals include Data Policy Expert, Data Release Expert, Exit Survey on Data Expert, and Algorithm Accountability Reviewer.  They can also interview subjects for a survey.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

MOOCs 101

Wendy Newman (L) and Jill Hurst-Wahl (Track Moderator)

Wendy Newman (L) and Jill Hurst-Wahl (Track Moderator)

Wendy Newman, Sr. Fellow at the University of Toronto iSchool, introduced us to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). (Her co-author, Sandy Hirsh, Director of the San Jose State University iSchool, was unable to attend, but her slides are available on the conference website.) Jill Hurst-Wahl, the track moderator, set the stage by giving some definitions of “MOOC”. In the context of MOOCs, “massive” can mean thousands of students; “open” may not mean open to all; and the concept of a “course” is frequently not clear. All MOOCs are not the same, nor are they equal.

Wendy’s talk was entitled “MOOCs as Continuing Professional Education: The Case of Library Advocacy Unshushed” (which is the title of her MOOC).  She said that we are currently at a tipping point with MOOCs. Here are some library schools offering MOOCs (see the photo below).

Library Schools Offering MOOCs

Library Schools Offering MOOCs

An ALA panel last year identified several characteristics of MOOCs: hope, concern, optimism, and skepticism; retention issues; and the business model. Gartner has said that MOOCs appear to be in the “trough of disillusionment” now. Reasons for an institution offering MOOCs include: building their reputation, providing professional development, exploring delivery and business models, strengthening relationships with alumni and faculty, exploring and evaluating pedagogy and open platforms, and contributing to innovation. Participants’ reasons for enrolling in MOOCs include professional development, networking by isolated practitioners, curiosity, credentials, and credits.

Some of the lessons that Wendy learned in creating “The Library Unshushed”:

  • The “sweet spot” for MOOCs is 6 to 8 weeks, with one session each week; any longer and it becomes difficult for many people to complete the course.
  • It can take hundreds of hours to create a MOOC (Wendy’s took about 300 hours).
  • The larger the group taking the MOOC, the harder it is to facilitate community engagement within it.
  • Lectures should be limited to 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Don’t just have a “talking face” for more than about a minute. Have something going on visually; include some illustrations and videos. (These are difficult to design and produce.)
  • Guest speakers can add good variety to a MOOC.

Here are some impacts of MOOCs in library schools:

Impacts of MOOCs on Library Schools

Impacts of MOOCs on Library Schools

In a final assignment, students were asked to record their reflections.  They reflected a deeper understanding and commitment to leadership advocacy and changes in confidence.

Can MOOCs grow?  Yes! They provide opportunities and will enable a deeper understanding than can be gained in conferences and blogs; improve the accessibility of research; help with recruitment into the profession; connect programs and practitioners; model roles of librarians in design and implementation; and perhaps provide models for sustainability.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

Creating a New Nostalgia: The Tuesday Keynote

David Ferriero (L) and John Palfrey

David Ferriero (L) and John Palfrey

John Palfrey's New Book

John Palfrey’s New Book

David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and John Palfrey, Head of School, Phillips Academy and Board President of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), held a keynote conversation to open the second day of CIL 2015. It was an extremely encouraging session for librarians and everyone concerned with libraries in today’s digital world.

David interviewed John and began by congratulating him on the recent publication of his new book, BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, and asking him if we still need libraries.  John replied that we need libraries more than ever in the present environment.  Although he is not a librarian, he admires them very much. The book is for people who are not librarians and argues strongly about our need for them. It says that we have forgotten how much we need libraries.

There is currently a sense that libraries have already served their purpose; however, there is now a bigger role available to libraries than ever. Libraries are being asked to do more than they have, but often without an increase in their resources. The internet has not made libraries irrelevant; it has made them more potent. We must build an infrastructure to make their mission more possible.

John’s book calls for the creation of a new nostalgia, and it is up to us to figure out what that means. New knowledge will persist that will make libraries more relevant in the future.  Combining the physical and virtual environments will be a very interesting progression.

Libraries have always been in the business of figuring out what their users need, but the focus has been on the collection of physical objects rather than on the human experience.  Human-centered design must be the driver of libraries’ products and services. The focus is moving away from being collection-centric.

The digital divide is very serious today. The issue was formerly technology access, but that divide has closed somewhat; now the difference is between having a broadband connection at home and having the skills to use it effectively, which is a huge opportunity for libraries that can provide the skills and technology for children. Many libraries are packed with kids after school because they are a great place to study and create knowledge together.  Where would the kids go if the library was not there? Libraries are more than community centers, and if we turn libraries into community centers, it will result in less funding for libraries. We need to get the information architects into the planning for the digital space.

The DPLA is now two years old. It has 1,600 contributing institutions. More than 15 states are also contributing. Much of DPLA’s content is open access. The new nostalgia will come from people taking its content and using it to make new works.

Libraries should inform, engage, and delight their users.  Informing and engaging are important, but there must be a fun component to libraries, especially for young people. If we do not have a public place where people, regardless of who they are, can go to get access to knowledge in a safe way, we are lost. Libraries are cornerstone institutions in a democracy.

School libraries have a unique role in supporting educational reform. Teachers who grew up in an analog era tend not to think about digital literacy, and they are not preparing our children well in this area. School libraries are one of the most under-appreciated assets in this country. The cost of them is very small in relation to funding an entire school, and the return on the investment is very high. If libraries had an app on students’ smartphones, it would probably provide an answer to the observation that students are no longer using libraries.

The digital world could be worse than the physical world because if a library had only e-books, they would not own anything!  Libraries are always arguing for sensible copyright reform, which is a strong role that they can play.  The fact that we cannot digitize works for which the copyright owner is not known (orphan works) is berserk!  What possible harm is being done by digitizing orphan works? Many times when an orphan work is digitized, the owner shows up and gets the benefit of the rights.

Rather than thinking about yourself working alone, think as a network actor.  There is vastly more power than has been unleashed. The architects of the new nostalgia are in the room today!

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger